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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The problem--and a solution--of our health care system

I've written here many times on how our American health care system is, insanely and without morals, the most expensive health care system in the world.  I think it too important not to keep repeating and writing on until we do something about this ugly, gross, inhumane injustice.  So here's another. I'll keep it brief.

It was spawned by an excellent, even important and enlightening article from Sunday's New York Times:

Here is a basic fact of health care in the United States: Doctors and hospitals know what they charge, but patients don’t know what they pay. As in any market, when one side has no information, that side loses: price secrecy is a major reason medical bills are so high. In my previous column, I wrote about the effect of this lack of transparency on the bills patients pay out of pocket.

We know about these bills, which hit us directly. What most people don’t know, because the costs are hidden, is that the same imbalance exists with insurance. The employers and employees who buy health coverage have delegated vigilance over health care costs to insurers — but insurers, for the most part, have gone AWOL...

Fortunately, but by necessity, a company in Texas found a bit of a solution to the obscenely high costs of our health care system by sourcing it out themselves.  As it turned out, they saved many, many thousands of dollars in expenses and were then able to offer even better care and at a far lower cost to their employees and the company:

Under Blue Cross’s P.P.O., the company had been paying $10,000 per visit for dialysis patients. Now it was paying $975. Other costs dropped commensurately. After the first year, the company lowered premiums by 3 percent and increased coverage, providing free vision, dental and life insurance to all its employees, including part-timers. “We saved so much money we were able to hire a third-party contractor to establish a medical clinic in our office,” said Marrs. “We provide a free primary care physician in our office to all employees and their dependents.”

So, basically, now we're getting to the end of our financial ropes regarding health care, some good, old fashioned communication and yes, even some Capitalism and competition is bringing prices and costs down, drastically.

And thank goodness.

It's long, long overdue.

It's not a "big picture", long term, widespread answer and solution but it's a good start.

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